There are a number of supplements that are marketed as having anti-aging activity, and that are expensive. The two that are best-known to me are Protandim and Longevinex. But let’s see how to make cheap anti-aging supplements.
Protandim is marketed as “The Nrf2 Synergizer”, since it up-regulates the cellular stress defense mechanisms via the Nrf2 (nuclear erythroid factor 2) system.(1) When Nrf2 is activated, the so-called phase 2 enzymes are produced; these include catalase, superoxide dismutase, and various enzymes that catalyze metabolism of xenobiotics, including drugs. Notably included in the phase 2 group is ferritin, which captures free iron and prevents it from doing damage. They prevent oxidative stress, cancer, and probably lots of other maladies of aging.(2)
The Nrf2 system is up-regulated by contact with foreign molecules that need detoxifying. Hence it can be seen that this sytem is involved in hormesis, in which low doses of a toxin or other input such as exercise or fasting produce beneficial health effects.
The ingredients in Protandim promote hormesis. They include milk thistle extract, bacopa extract (whatever that is), ashwaghanda, turmeric extract (i.e. curcumin), and green tea extract.
As it happens, I’m already taking two of these, curcumin and green tea extract, which is what inspired this post.
Protandim retails at Amazon for just under $35 for 30 capsules, or a one-month supply. Seems to me that this could be done a lot cheaper.
Longevinex is another supplement in the same arena. It claims to be designed to mimic calorie restriction, the robust life extension intervention. (Many of the benefits and few of the downsides of calorie restriction can be obtained through intermittent fasting.)
The ingredients of a capsule of Longevinex are vitamin D3 (1000 IU), and 244 mg of a proprietary blend of resveratrol (at 100 mg per capsule), unknown quantities of inositol hexaphosphate (IP6), quercetin, chlorogenic acid, green tea extract, and “nucleotides”.
Longevinex retails for about the same price as Protandim, or about $34 for a 30-day supply. Their new product, Advantage, retails for $50 a month.
Let’s say I wanted to both activate my Nrf2 system and mimic calorie restriction using these premium products. That could cost me a minimum of $70 a month, or $840 a year. Also keep in mind that most people buying these products don’t know much or even anything about their ingredients, and probably think of these products as unique or magical. (Not that they aren’t backed by science; they are.)
As it happens, in my rotation of supplements I have curcumin, green tea extract, IP6, and resveratrol, providing many of the ingredients of both of these. Chlorogenic acid, an ingredient of Longevinex, is found abundantly in coffee, and may provide many of its benefits. And I do drink coffee.
Many of these are cheap. IP6 in bulk is about $20 for 250 grams (over half a pound); at 500 mg a day, that will last 500 days. Green tea extract is $14 for 250 capsules, and since I don’t take one even every day, that should last a year.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Curcumin is the only one that’s relatively expensive, but even here, at $26 for 120 capsules, and not taken every day, that will last quite awhile.
It’s worth noting that neither proprietary supplement contains aspirin, which not only may be the most potent anti-aging drug available, but is dirt cheap. I take aspirin too.
So, we see that expensive, propietary anti-aging supplements can easily be, if not duplicated, at least reasonably imitated with cheap OTC, generic supplements.
Is it possible that we’re not getting all of the benefits of Protandim and Longevinex because some of the ingredients are missing? Sure, it’s possible. I’m not taking milk thistle, ashwaghanda, or quercetin.
But is it likely we’re missing any of the benefits? That seems highly doubtful to me.
For one thing, I already practice an intervention that mimics calorie restriction, namely intermittent fasting. I also exercise, another hormetic process.
Maybe more importantly, I drink coffee, tea, and red wine, and eat chocolate, which provide high levels of dietary polyphenols and greatly lower disease risk. I have difficulty believing that the other ingredients in the two proprietary supplements would add anything of value to what I already do.
I also eat vegetables, especially broccoli, onions, peppers, and the like, which strongly up-regulate the Nrf2 system. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are known to have a strong anti-cancer effect. Again, given my intake of these and other dietary components high in hormetic constituents – like the aforementioned coffee, etc. – it’s doubtful that Protandim and/or Longevinex would add in any appreciable way to the health benefits I already get.
So, instead of spending beaucoup bucks on Protandim and Longevinex, consider doing it my way, the cheap way. It will likely provide more and better anti-aging effects anyway.